Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Glasgow, Walls and Equal Pay

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Stefan Cross posted this 'Glasgow Update' on Facebook last night which is just about what I was expecting - seems like the council's senior officials are digging-in while the politicians are desperately trying to stay above the fray.

But if you ask me, this is all bound to end badly because senior officials who were given a completely free hand to do what they liked over the WPBR, for example, will now demand that every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed by elected councillors who previously handed over blank cheques and made a point of not asking awkward questions such as:

"What if you're completely wrong?" or "How do you defend a 37 hour WPBR 'rule' which blatantly discriminates against our largely female council workforce?" 

So the scene is set for a big build up of tension and an obvious illustration of how seriously officials are taking this is that, as Stefan reports, the council has still to respond to protection period figures which were presented back in January. 

Meanwhile the council's political leadership keeps as far away from the scene of the action (or inaction) as it can, for fear of being accused of 'interfering' in the settlement process.

Yet there are no real negotiations underway - and no further meetings will take place until meeting Number 9 on 17 April 2018.  

A reader has shared a copy of an interesting letter from GCC's chief executive Annemarie O'Donnell which is illuminating as far as the council's mindset is concerned - I'll have more to say on this later today when I publish the contents of the letter on the blog.



Meeting 8 with the council and it doesn’t get any better. Believe it or not we are still discussing minutes from December, draft Terms of Reference, and what is and is not confidential. Sadly the council insisted that part of today’s meeting be confidential. So there is stuff I can’t discuss. This post is therefore my impressions of the current state of play.

There is in my view, no real negotiations yet. We’ve not even received a considered response to our protection period figures which we presented to the council in January.

To us it feels like the officers are basically ignoring what we say and ploughing on regardless. At the same time putting more and more distance between us and councillors.

The lead officers approach is to look at what they consider to be the lowest figure that think a tribunal will award and work from there. They are clinging to the original tribunal decision and clutching at whatever straws they can find within it. At least that’s my interpretation of what’s being said. They say that’s their mandate from the leader and their legal obligation. Of course we have no direct access to SA so we don’t know if that’s a correct understanding or not.

We totally disagree with their interpretation of the judgments and their approach. We hope they reconsider.

The claimant group has decided to take the initiative and prepare proposals for the council that address the whole period, not just protection, and hopefully get down to talking about the substantive issues in dispute. Sadly we wont be able share these as they will be confidential. We agree with the council that,in principle, offers or proposals should be confidential until agreed otherwise or negotiations break down.

We don’t meet the council again until 17th April but we need that time to work on our proposals. It’s very complicated and we still have a lot of work to do. Karl and Suzanne from UNISON are working on this together. We hope our initiative will spur GCC into serious discussions.

Although meetings have been diarised for the year now that the appeal has been dropped we don’t believe it should take a year to sort settlement. Implementing a new JES may take longer but that’s a different issue.

I still don’t think we call for strike ballot - YET , but it might come to that. Let’s see how the council reacts to our proposals and then take stock. Needless to say the council have been warned.

Now I need to stop banging my head on that brick wall. It hurts.

Stefan Cross

'Got to Go', Glasgow! (11/02/18)

Glasgow City Council's WPBR pay scheme has 'got to go' which is the key message behind this motion I've drafted for discussion and debate with local councillors and other Glasgow politicians.

Now the WPBR has already been characterised as 'unfit for purpose' by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, and it's easy to see how three senior judges came to their unanimous decision because the scheme:
  • the NSWP 37 hour 'rule' discriminates against the council's largely female workforce
  • the City Council's overtime working arrangements blatantly favour traditional male dominated jobs
  • Home Carers, for example, are issued with separate 'plain time' contracts for additional hours worked 
  • the city council's Employee Development Commitment was not made available to any of the female dominated claimant jobs
In essence, the WPBR simply repackages the pay discrimination inherent in the city council's previous pay structures and the end result that former bonus earning, male dominated jobs retain their place in the pay 'pecking order'. 

Previous pay differentials have been disguised and camouflaged, but the old order is still in place.

Meanwhile, senior council officials say they cannot explain the costs of the WPBR or the mysterious circumstances surrounding the procurement of the scheme by an external consultant - Hays HR Consulting and a consultant named Steve Watson.

So spread the word far and wide - no 'ifs', 'buts' or 'maybes' the unfit for purpose WPBR has got to go.

Glasgow's 'Unfit For Purpose' WPBR.

"Glasgow City Council accepts with the unanimous judgment of the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, that its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) is 'unfit for purpose'.

"Council therefore instructs senior officials to replace the WPBR scheme, as a matter of urgency, to bring to an end discriminatory practices which treat its low paid women workers as second class citizens.

"Council further instructs senior officials to draw up plans for using the Gauge job evaluation scheme (JES) as a replacement for the WPBR.

"Council notes that the Gauge JES was originally recommended for use by the Scottish council employers via COSLA and the national trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite), as part of the landmark 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement."  


Glasgow - Equal Pay Update (08/02/18)

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Charles Dickens wrote about the Circumlocution Office in his famous book 'Little Dorrit' way back in the 1850s, but the same bureaucratic mentality seems to hold sway in the minds of senior officials in Glasgow City Council who appear to be doing their level best to frustrate and delay meaningful negotiations to end the council's long-running equal pay dispute. 

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.

Now the views of the Council Leader Susan Aitken couldn't be clearer, but the behaviour of senior officials stands in stark contrast as they fight to hold onto a  a completely discredited WPBR pay scheme which has been characterised by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, as 'unfit for purpose'.

So it seems to me that the same officials who brought in the WPBR, under mysterious and unexplained circumstances, are now trying to circumvent the will of the council's leadership.

And that can't be allowed to happen because these bureaucrats are acting as both judge and jury in their own cause.


Susan Slates the Naysayers (02/02/18)

Glasgow City Council's leader Susan Aitken responds to the naysayers and doom-mongers on Twitter - and sets out her stall on the challenges facing the council over equal pay.

Good for her, I say.

What a difference from the negative, cheeseparing attitude of previous Labour council leaders who proclaimed their great support for equal pay while presiding over pay arrangements which blatantly favoured traditional male jobs.  

And while I'm on my high horse aren't people disgusted at the former senior official who has been telling The Times that equal pay represents a significant threat to council jobs and services! 

If 'Mr Anonymous' would like to step out of the shadows, I'd be happy to debate the issues with him publicly including the advice he gave to the Labour council leader, Stephen Purcell, in 2005 over the introduction of the now widely discredited Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR).

A short thread on equal pay. Lots of inaccurate claims being made, so a few points of fact follow.

The £500m bill figure that is being widely quoted is pure speculation at this stage. The final settlement will be established through negotiations - that’s what they’re for - and no one yet knows what the figure will be.

The final bill for the Council will probably be substantial - we’re prepared for that. But the City Government does not believe it has to be ‘catastrophic’ or that we will have to have a fire sale of assets or make substantial cuts or job losses.

Funding any settlement will be extremely challenging but other local authorities have done it, without making huge cuts. We will explore all the financial options available to us and minimise the impact on jobs and services.

I have consistently said this issue is of Glasgow City Council’s making and it is ours to solve. We will NOT and have not asked for a loan or a bailout from either the Scottish or UK govts. We will seek advice and support to find innovative funding solutions.

The bottom line is that the SNP City Government believes that gender inequality and discrimination are not a price worth paying to spare difficulty and expense.

Resolving equal pay in Glasgow is about equality, fairness and good governance. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’ll get there.


Glasgow's 'Unfit For Purpose' WPBR

Glasgow City Council keeps asking that the equal pay claimant organisations (A4ES, GMB and Unison) to explain why the discredited Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) has to go.

So here's the claimants case in a nutshell:

Glasgow's WPBR is riddled with invented 'rules' which blatantly discriminate against the City Council's predominantly female workforce which is why three senior judges in the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, came to their unanimous decision that the WPBR is 'unfit for purpose'. 

"The same three judges also reached a unanimous decision that Glasgow City Council would not be granted leave to appeal their 'unfit for purpose' judgement to the UK Supreme Court."   

If any council official or elected member needs more evidence on the discriminatory nature of the WPBR, here is a detailed explanation from my blog site which I'm happy to discuss further and/or follow up with a face-to-face meeting. 


Glasgow's WPBR Pay Monster (03/03/18)

I have shared my post about Glasgow's WPBR Pay Monster with all 15 constituency MSPs and MPs along with the following Twitter message.

The fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council concerns all of Glasgow's politicians - because this 10-year long scandal involves very large sums of public money and the governance of Scotland's largest council.

I hope regular readers and equal pay claimants will take the time to read these posts over the weekend because this is where the next big battle lies.

Glasgow's equal pay claimants need to know how to get their message across and all the information is laid out in the following posts which explain how the WPBR was designed from the outset to work to the disadvantage of female dominated jobs.

I know it's a lot of reading, but believe me this will pay off in the end - because knowledge is power if you use it wisely and to good effect.

If you ask me, what this all boils down to is: who runs Glasgow City Council?

Will the council's senior officials continue to get away with 'murder' over their WPBR or will the council's elected members finally step in, exert their authority and tell officials that the game is up - that the WPBR Pay Monster has to go?


The Fight for Equal Pay in Glasgow (02/03/18)

I have pulled together in this one post all the A4ES slides which illustrate and explain why Glasgow's WPBR pay scheme has been condemned as 'unfit for purpose'.

In the weeks ahead there will be a concerted effort from all of the claimant organisations - A4ES, GMB and Unison - to persuade the City Council that the WPBR must go and be replaced by new pay arrangements and a new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) which are transparent, consistent and fair.

Because the reality is that if the WPBR were to remain, Glasgow's pay problems will keep getting worse causing the equal pay claimants are to become angrier and even more frustrated at the shabby way they have been treated for the past 10 years.

I hope readers and equal pay claimants will take the time to read and familiarise themselves with the information and arguments contained in the following posts, as these are the really big issues that need to be debated with Glasgow's politicians - local councillors, MSPs and MPs.

My own view is that Glasgow City Council's elected politicians were probably only marginally involved in the setting up and scrutiny of the WPBR.

Senior council officials seem to have been given a free hand and a blank cheque to do what they wanted to do - with little accountability for their actions, before or after the WPBR was introduced or during the 10-year long battle which ended in the Court of Session in 2017. 

Now this should be a matter of great concern to all Glasgow politicians not just local councillors, because the 10 year debacle over equal pay involves very large sums of public money and the good governance (or otherwise) of Scotland's largest council.

So I will be sharing this post with all Glasgow councillors, MSPs and MPs - and, as ever, I am very happy to respond to queries or meet face-to-face to discuss the issues in more detail.


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (1)

A4ES held a special briefing meeting on equal pay in Glasgow on Friday 9 February 2018.

A group of claimants were present, along with representatives from Unison and GMB (the other claimant organisations) - Glasgow's constituency MSPs and MPs were all invited to attend along with to 'List' MSPs.  

The briefing kicked off with Stefan Cross explaining the nature of the discriminatory pay arrangements which existed across Glasgow back in 2005 

At that time 133 traditional male (comparator) jobs in Glasgow City Council enjoyed access to bonus schemes which boosted their basic pay by 50% or more.

So a male worker being paid £6.00 an hour was reality being paid £9.00, £10.00 or even £11.00 an hour depending on the particular job in question. 

The number of female dominated (claimant) jobs which enjoyed access to bonus schemes back in 2005 was - 0, zero, nada, none.

In other words, traditional male jobs which demanded a great deal less responsibility, skill and/or qualifications than comparable female jobs - were nonetheless being paid thousands of pounds a year more.

The Scottish council employers, including Glasgow, City Council had pledged to deal with this scandal of 'unequal pay' as far back as 1999, but six years later nothing had changed.

More to follow in the days ahead.

So watch this space because my next post will explain that pay differences between male and female jobs are still enormous under Glasgow's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR.


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (2)

The table above shows the pay differences between a Home Carer (MW5) and a Road Worker (MW4) - both before and after the Glasgow City Council's infamous Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) in 2007.

Now Home Carer on grade MW5, was on a higher grade on the male Road Worker on MW4  and that ought to have meant that the Home Carer was paid more than her male colleague - because the council's grading system awarded the Road Worker a lower grade.

However the pay reality (which had existed for years remember) was very different and the relative earnings of the two jobs was actually as follows:


Road Worker (MW4) - £24,901.78
Home Carer (MW5)  -  £12,438.00

Pay Difference -  £12,463.78


Road Worker (MW4) - £23,308.16
Home Carer (MW5)  - £16,646.49

Pay Difference - £6,661.67

So the pay difference narrowed after the introduction of the WPBR, but the Road Worker did much better out of the WPBR with all of its complicated and non-transparent 'rules' such as the NSWP which were designed to give a better outcome to traditional male jobs.

For a good example, look no further than the NSWP 37 hour 'rule' which pays £1,000 a year but only to jobs which are contracted to work 37 hours or more every week. 

98% of council employees who are not contracted to work 37 hours or more every week - are women, of course.

The big question is - "How did a WPBR scheme which was supposed to tackle the widespread problem of 'unequal pay' and big, hidden bonuses - end up favouring Glasgow's City Council's traditional male jobs?"

Because after all has been said and done, Glasgow's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR rewards a Road Worker with almost £7,000 a year more than a Home Carer.   

Not just that, of course, because back in 2005 senior City Council officials rushed in a compensation scheme which was capped at a total of just £9,000 when the real pay difference between a Home Carer and a Road Worker stood at £12,463.78 a year.

The council compensation scheme took no account of hours worked (i.e. overtime) and left many groups of workers out - even though they had perfectly valid claims.

Lots more to follow - so tune in again soon for 'Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (3)'.


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (3)

Just in case anyone thought that a Glasgow Road Worker enjoyed some great good fortune at the hands of the City Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR scheme - which resulted in a pay package worth more than £24,000 a year.

Here are several other traditional male jobs that were previously placed on a lower grade than a Home Carer, but which all leapfrogged over the Home Carers (who had previously been on a higher grade) as a result of the new, 'improved' and allegedly fairer WPBR pay arrangements.

The following examples are based on 2009 figures at the end of the WPBR protection period although the fact of the matter is that the higher pay of traditional male jobs continues to this day, i.e. into 2018.

Gardener 1 - £18,032

Home Carer - £16,300

Pay Difference - £1,732

General Labourer - £18,324
Home Carer - £16,300

Pay Difference - £2,024

Gravedigger - £21,201
Home Carer - £16,300

Pay Difference - £4,901

Gardener 4 - £21,803
Home Carer - £16,300

Pay Difference - £5,503

Road Worker - £24,208
Home Carer - £16,300

Pay Difference - £7,908

So what senior officials in Glasgow are inviting employees (and the public) to believe is that a whole raft of traditional, unskilled male dominated jobs which require no qualifications, all of a sudden fared a great deal better under a new 'improved' WPBR pay scheme - than the city's Home Carers.

Always remembering that the WPBR was introduced, supposedly, to address the problem of 'unequal pay' and the widespread pay discrimination in Glasgow City Council's pre-WPBR pay structures. 
Does your head button up the back, Glasgow?

Does the council workforce have any confidence in the senior officials responsible for overseeing the WPBR process?

I suspect the answer to both of these questions is a resounding 'NO', but tune in again soon for - Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (4)


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (4)

Here are some remarkable facts and figures about Glasgow's WPBR Pay Monster which was supposed to tackle the problem of widespread pay discrimination and unequal pay in the City Council's pre-WPBR pay arrangements.

  • 60.29% of men receive NSWP payments.
  • But only 18.93% of women receive NSWP payments
  • Yet women make up the great majority of Glasgow City Council's workforce - 69.5% - let's just call that 70% for the sake of simplicity. 
  • Quite unbelievably more than three times as many men (60.29%) receive NSWP payments compared to women 18.93%). 
  • But all things being 'equal' you would expect women to receive 70% of NSWP payments - in line with their share of the workforce.
  • 70% of the total number of workers receiving NSWP = 60.29% + 18.93% = 79.22% x 70% = 55.45%.
  • Yet instead of 55.45% of women being paid NSWP only 18.93% of the female workforce receive these payments.
  • Again if all things were 'equal' the council's male workers would receive 30% of all NSWP payments or 60.29% + 18.93% = 79.22% x 30% = 23.77%.  
  • Yet instead of 23.77% of men being paid NSWP an eye watering 60.29% of the male workforce receive these payments.

What does this say about the WPBR other than the fact the at the WPBR Pay Monsters is a complete joke? 

If you ask me, the invented 'rules' of the WPBR have been deliberately designed to favour traditional male jobs which is why the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, judged the pay scheme to be 'unfit for purpose'.

Surely it is indefensible for Glasgow City Council's most senior officials to continue backing this cockamamy scheme.


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (5)

Here are some more killer facts and figures on Glasgow City Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme.

  • Percentage of women who receive no (zero, nada) NSWP payment - 81.07%
  • Percentage of men who receive no (zero, nada) NSWP payment - 39.71%

  • Percentage of women who receive NSWP payments at Level A - 4.66%
  • Percentage of men who receive NSWP payments at Level  A - 4.18%

  • Percentage of women who receive NSWP payments at Level B - 7.26%
  • Percentage of men who receive NSWP payments at Level B - 30.49%

  • Percentage of women who receive NSWP payments at Level C - 3.58%
  • Percentage of men who receive NSWP payments at Level C - 6.83%

  • Percentage of women who receive NSWP paymentS at Level D - 1.10%
  • Percentage of men who receive NSWP payments at Level D - 14.63%

  • Percentage of women who receive NSWP paymentS at Level E - 0.23%
  • Percentage of men who receive NSWP payments at Level E - 0.24%

  • Percentage of women who receive NSWP payments at Level F - 2.11%
  • Percentage of men who receive NSWP payments at Level F - 2.92%

So let me see summarise the position as  follows:
  • more than 4 out of 5 women receive no payment at all in respect of NSWP
  • but fewer than 2 out of 5 men receive a 'zero' NSWP payment
  • in only one of the payment levels (Level A) do women outnumber men - by a very small margin
  • Level A is the lowest payment level
  • Level B - women council workers outnumber men by more that 2 to 1 (70% to 30%)
  • Level B - but 4 times as many men receive Level B payments than women 
  • Level D - women council workers outnumber men by more that 2 to 1 (70% to 30%)
  • Level D - but 14 times as many men receive Level D payments than women 
  • Levels C, E and F - women council workers outnumber men by more that 2 to 1 (70% to 30%)
  • Levels C, E and F - yet in each of these payments bands men outnumber women
Again it seems unarguable that the NSWP pay bands have been designed to work to the obvious disadvantage of female dominated jobs - there is no other explanation. 


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (6)

WCD (Working Context and Demands) is a method for 'topping up' the Core Pay of GCC employees and is based on 5 additional assessment criteria - over and above the 10 criteria used to determine a job's initial WPBR grade and Core Pay.  

Again the 'rules' of WCD have been designed in such a way as to favour traditional male jobs.

Less than a third of women's jobs (just 32%) receive WCD payments despite the fact that women make up 70% of the City Council's workforce. 

70% of men on the other hand receive WCD payments which is another sign that a 'hidden hand is at work.

Whoever designed and finally signed off on the WPBR spent a whole bunch of time ensuring that the 'rules' worked to the disadvantage of predominantly female jobs.

The final scheme must have been approved by senior council officials and/or a relevant committee of Glasgow City Council, but the WPBR is shrouded in secrecy despite being, by far, the most significant employment issue the City Council had ever faced, up until the time its introduction in January 2007.


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (7)

WCD has 6 levels from Level 0 (which attracts no payment whatsoever) to Level 5 which attracts the highest payment.

Level 0 - has 23% Men and 77% Women (0 to 44 points)

Level 1 - has 26% Men and 74% Women (45 to 54 points)

Level 2 - has 51% Men and 49% Women (55 to 63 points)

Level 3 - has 93% Men and 07% Women (64 to 72 points)

Level 4 - has 100% Men and 0% Women (73 to 79 points)

Level 5 - has 100% Men and 0% Women (80 points plus)

The position can be summarised as follows:
  • The highest concentration of women is to be found at WCD Level 0 which attracts a zero payment. 
  • Women also dominate Level 1 which attracts the lowest level of WCD payment. 
  • Traditional male jobs dominate Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5 despite the fact that men make up only 30% of the workforce.
  • Each WCD Level is awarded points and the points are worth money - except in the case of Level 0 which attracts no monetary reward. 
  • Level 0 has from 0 to 44 points, but these points do not get added to an employee's initial WPBR Grade even though the extra points would make a difference to some of the claimants' grades and Core Pay. 
  • The strange banding of points has clearly been designed to favour male dominated jobs - the first Level 0 band is 'up to 44 points' yet all the others have much shorter 'steps'.
Yet another reason the Court of Session decided that Glasgow's WPBR is 'unfit for purpose' although the City Council's senior officials continue to disagree.


Why Glasgow's WPBR Sucks (8)

Here is the stark and shocking reality of how the 'rules' of the WPBR have been designed by Glasgow City Council to disadvantage female dominated jobs while favouring traditional male jobs.

The most notorious example is the completely invented '37 hour rule' and the accompanying overtime working practices which treat women workers as second class citizens. 
  • 98% of male dominated jobs benefit from the 37 hour rule and O/T practices
  • 2% of female dominated jobs benefit from the 37 hour rule and O/T practices
  • No other work related benefit operates in this way - people don't have to work 37 hours to qualify for holiday pay, sick pay, maternity leave, paternity leave etc.
  • Put simply the 'rule' is a blatant example of the gender discrimination on which the whole WPBR is based.
Many Home Carers, for example, work more than 37 hours every week, but they are issued with separate contracts for working these additional hours so they don't qualify for premium, overtime rates.

If you ask me, the double standards built into the WPBR are completely indefensible which is why Glasgow's 'unfit for purpose' pay scheme has to go.